Fire DP Juan Luis Anangonó says he's ready to make debut in Wednesday's Open Cup semifinal
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Though cleared to play with the reception of his international transfer certificate last Thursday, new Fire Designated Player Juan Luis Anangonó didn’t dress in the Fire’s 2-1 victory at Philadelphia on the weekend due to hamstring tightness he experienced late in the week.
The scratch for the Ecuadorian forward was merely a precaution with the club stating Saturday he was likely to dress for Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal vs. D.C. United at Toyota Park.
“I feel good, I'm recovered,” Anangonó said through a translator Tuesday. “It’s now just waiting to see if I have an opportunity to play in the game and now I’m just trying to do things the right way.”
Though unlikely to start the game, Fire head coach Frank Klopas was asked Tuesday whether or not the 24-year-old forward would make his first team debut in Wednesday night’s match and simply said, “He’s better, we’ll see tomorrow."
Whether or not the powerful 6-1 forward takes his first Fire bow on Wednesday, he said he’s been made to understand the importance of the match.
“My teammates have told me a little bit about it. It’s a great tournament and one that this club has a lot of history in. It’s a great opportunity to be in this position with a chance to play in the Open Cup final.”
If he does debut, perhaps he’ll play for the memory of his recently fallen compatriot Christian “Chucho” Benitez, who tragically passed away last week at the age of 26.
“I knew him pretty well. It was a tragic loss because he was a great person and a great player – very humble and simple. He won over the hearts of all of Ecuador and it was a very painful loss for everyone.
Well within the picture for the Ecuadorian national team, Benitez had recently led Club America to the 2013 Liga MX Apertura championship before making a high-profile move to Qatari club El Jaish this summer.
“He was a player that achieved so much on the field and off. He never changed, he was always the same person. There are no words that can really express how it feels to lose a person and player of Chucho’s caliber."